I did this cake for my son's birthday, and it went over really well! Of course, who doesn't love chocolate and caramel together?
makes a non-skimpy 9x13 pan
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
1 tbsp +1 tsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp +1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cup milk
Cream butter and sugar, beating for at least 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating at least 30 seconds each time. (Do NOT shortchange beating time. You need it so the cake doesn't have the texture of cornbread. Air is a good thing!)
Mix together the flour and baking powder. Alternate adding flour mixture and milk, beating until combined with each addition. (You don't want to overmix this part, or you'll start the flour developing gluten. That's good for bread, bad for cake. Any air you incorporate has been done with the eggs and sugar.)
Grease your pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. This helps the cake release easily and helps with crumbs. Scoop batter into pan, level it out. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, or until cake is pulling away from the side and a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Let cool about 10 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack to cool another 30 mintues - ish.
This is the fun part. Put the cake back before it is completely cool, cover with tin foil, and let it sit for several hours. That's right, you can't make this right before dinner! I make my cakes the night before and let them sit in the pan overnight. They stay really moist, and they settle so they are less likely to crack when doing layers. And don't crumble as easily when cutting. For the layers you'll be doing, it's important to NOT skip this step, or the cake will absorb too much of the filling and get soggy.
While the cake is sitting in it's pan...
Whipped Chocolate Ganache
9 ounces chocolate chips. (I used milk chocolate, but semi sweet would work too. Use a good guality, like Guittard. Nothing with hydrogenated oils or it won't work! Cocoa, sugar, cream, and lecithin... that's all. You can use a bar of baking chocolate too, just break it up.)
1 cup heavy cream
Pour chips or chocolate bar pieces in a glass bowl. Heat cream just to boiling, watch it because it boils over REALLY quickly after it comes to a boil.
Pour cream over chocolate. The heat of the cream will melt the chocolate. Stir until everything is melted and well combined. Let it sit for several hours to cool, or put in the fridge for a while if you're in a hurry.
At this point, before it's chilled, you can pour it over stuff as a chocolate glaze. But after it's cool, you can whip it! Just like you would when making whipped cream. Make sure your mixer bowl and beaters have no water on them, or the chocolate will seize and be ruined. It may look a little grainy while beating, and that's okay. Nobody will care what it looks like. It does take a while to beat, but should be like fluffy chocolate frosting stuff, in between frosting and whipped cream. Set aside.
Putting the cake together
1 recipe white cake
1 recipe whipped ganache
1 bag fun size snickers, chopped up
1 jar smuckers hot caramel topping (You need stuff that is thicker, hence the hot caramel. The normal caramel topping is too thin and won't spread well. Smuckers is what I used and works really well.)
Cut your cake in half so you have to thicker rectangles. Cut each of those rectangles in half, so you have a top have and bottom half. This cut is called "torting", and results in thin layers. All together you should have 4 layers, all about the same size.
Put the first layer on your cake plate or whatever surface you'll be serving on. Spread 1/2 the ganache on this layer, and sprinkle on 1/2 the snickers. Lay on the second piece of cake. Spread this one with a layer of caramel. Another piece of cake and repeat the ganache and snickers. Lastly is the last piece of cake.
My frosting recipe is just whatever basic buttercream I feel like using, and mix in some of the caramel sauce. Canned frosting would be fine, I've done that. I add the caramel sauce when beating my butter soft, and since that adds a little moisture you may need to add some extra powdered sugar. Just taste the frosting until you like it. :-) Spread a thin coat of frosting on the cake. This is a crumb coat and seals the cake. Let that sit for a while, or stick it in the freezer for 20 minutes to let the frosting harden. Then frost with the rest of your frosting.
(Okay, I'm really just being selfish with my particular frosting recipe. But it's sort of a trade secret, like when you buy a sauce and they list tomatoes, peppers and spices. What spices? They aren't going to tell you! But really, any frosting is going to work, for this recipe it's the caramel you are adding that makes it yummy.)